Building basic math skills in preschool: Sorting our math tokens

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on January 7, 2012

in Mathematics, Sorting Math Tokens

At the beginning of the school year, we started collecting math tokens and bringing them to school in our math bags each week. You can read more about our math bags by clicking here and more about how we share our math tokens here.

As you can imagine, we have gathered quite a collection of math tokens so far this year. So I thought I would share one of our activities we recently did with the math tokens.  This may look like a pile of junk but it is basic math skill building materials in the making…

Our kids bring all kinds of really strange things in their math bags each week and I must tell you – the kids can’t wait to share their math tokens on Thursdays!  Many of the children love to give me a sneak peak at what they brought before we get to math day…

After we share our math tokens, we count them together and compare or discuss other qualities of the math items but then they all end up stored away in a box. For the remainder of the year, we will begin to use the math tokens in a variety of ways.  On this day, the PreK only class worked together to categorize and sort the math tokens…

Each child was given a box to start with and then the children worked together to come up with different categories for the math items…

We ended up with all the round objects (pretty much all lids) in this box…

And in this box we ended up with all the food items [mental note to self: next year tell parents not to send food items]

And this box was all things magnetic…

And we also ended up with things that are soft; things that are long and straight; items from nature; toy items; rubber items; and “decoration” items (gems and tiles).

The kids kept tweaking the categories until we ended up with nine very distinct categories. The children were quite impressive as they worked together to sort and categorize most of these items almost completely on their own…

Once we had all the tokens categorized and sorted, we placed all the boxes in the center of the table for a little I Spy game…

Each of the children took a turn (and so did Miss Abby and I) spying something and then everyone searched the boxes to guess and find the item….

As I hope you can see, this was a wonderful process in math, cooperation, collaboration, critical thinking, communication and the learning just keeps going on…

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